Hollywood

Zurich is No More

Zurich is no more. Long live Zurich.

Many might there be Picadillies, and French Loaves and Cream and Fudge Factories, but there shall be (was) only one Zurich.

Got into a fight today. With an auto-wallah of all people. In re two bucks of all things. But as always, a fight though triggered by specifics, is never about them. Nor can it be broken down into disparate components. A fight is always about generalities, of principles, of sahis and galats, and similar platitudinal excesses 🙂

Today, the entire sequence consisted of the auto-wallah pocketing ten bucks instead of his usual eight; of being almost run-over in rush-hour traffic; a 100 metre dash behind the offending party; a proper shove-session in front of the traffic policeman in front of South City, who true to form, washed his hands off the affair, with the exception of proffering a suggestion to register a complaint at Jadavpur P.S.

Then, trundling back to Lord’s; being accosted by the Auto-wallah there who had somehow tracked me back, and being threatened with dire consequences if I registered a complaint (and at which point, I truly lost it). A psychedelic 2-3 minute hand-to-hand combat session, which almost culminated in my shoving that git’s face into a vat of boiling oil where jalebis were being fried. And finally, getting back two rupees.

A honourable mention goes to the Skulker, who was comrade-in-arms, for the entire bit till we trundled across to Lord’s and whose cell probably still has stored, the offending auto’s license plate number.

Also, on a slightly more personal note, the most psychedelic moment of the entire episode probably occurred when in midst of grappling with that jackass, I picked out a complete stranger and asked him to hold on to my specs, so that I could let loose. For in sooth, though I mind not specs, they do hamper you, come fights. That, and also in terms of utter psychedelia, abusing him in English 🙂

Saw me a movie recently. Thought ’twas alright.

I still remember the first copy of Sherlock Homes I ever picked up. I must have been in Grade V then. Rajpur Road used to have this really old bookshop called Jugal Kishore. I’d got it from there. I think I even remember the first story I read; The Adventure of the Speckled Band. And I was HOOKED. Next year I came to Cal for the first time. The first bookstore I visited was Oxford’s. The first books I picked up were The Adventures, The Case-Book, The Memoirs, and The Return of Sherlock Holmes (I read His Last Bow only a couple of years later).

Guy Ritchie’s Holmes though, is not one (only) of cobblestone streets or meershcaum pipes. His is one of kinetic excesses and excess coolth. And one, who is, a tad vertically challenged. The greatness of true literature is that often it not only leads itself to translations, or transliterations, but also to transmutations. Take Mahabharata; you have Mrityunjaya by Sivaji Sawant, Randamoozham by Vasudeva Nair, and Yajnaseni by Pratibha Ray (a strand later  taken up by Chitra Divakaruni), all of which use entirely different narratives in respect of the same overarching structure. And more pertinently, succeed in doing so.

Whether Downey Jr.’s Holmes also falls into the same category is for you to decide. I though, for one, shall stick out my neck, and say, verbal fencing and witty repartee apart, there was little to distinguish it from say, a cerebral version of Van Helsing.

First Day, First Show

The first time I saw Her was on the cover of a Reader’s Digest. I think I must have been in Class VIII. Classes then (as perhaps, always) used to be bloody boring; and as natural, it was incumbent upon any level-headed chap to resort to whatever means necessary to keep himself occupied (At a later point in life I had been reduced to devising alliterations while somebody stood at a lectern and went muda-fada and fada-muda-fada, but I’ll probably blog about that later).

In any case, that day, as mentioned before, variegated mean no. 223 was that month’s issue of RD (And whatever the faults RD might have (and precious few they are), timeliness of delivery date is most, most certainly not one amongst them). So there I was, reading RD, minding my own sweet business,wondering when the next hols were, letting the cool breeze waft over me, the works basically, when suddenly, I was caught in the act by Mr. D. Now, I’ve never really understood how any reasonably sane person can pass a blanket edict proscribing all kinds of non-curriculum material at a school. I mean, if I’d been a teacher, DON’T LAUGH, and if I were to catch any of my students reading something nifty, say Tolkien or even Calvin, that in my book would call for a couple of high-fives (Paulo Coelho would have been fit grounds for expulsion though).

Mr. D’s reaction though, that day, was highly surprising 🙂 I’d never seen him that thrilled. Ever. It was all due to Her. I did have to listen to a monologue on her luminescence, and brilliance, and greatness, and thespian smarts. But that was alright. I might mind monologues, but not as much as confiscations and being made to stand outside classrooms. See, that’s what you get when you read stuff with Meryl Streep on its cover.

Saw me a movie recently. Starring Streep. Loved it. She’s pulled off an almost impossible impersonation of Julia Child. And the accent is simply out of this world. Leave you with three clips; this is the official trailer, this is an actual clip of Julia Child, and this is THE Dan Akroyd clip. Bon appetit 🙂

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek composed the background score for this movie. More importantly, he composed the Piano Variation in Blue. A track which I am listening to as I type this out, and which, in my considered opinion, is one of the most delightful pieces I have ever come across. Kaczmarek, btw, also did the score for this movie. You live. You Learn. And You Marvel.

Somehow, prior to yesterday. I’d never caught a First Day, First Show. As a matter of fact prior to yesterday, I’d only caught two movies on the very day they released; Omkara and The Dark Knight. Simply put, there are very few movies which enthuse me enough to land up in a movie-hall on the very first day, so that I can make a statement to my own immortal self. And frankly, I thought 3 Idiots would be a decent enough yarn, but nothing exceptional. Don’t get me wrong, I like Aamir, but Ghajini was utter Tripe, and the capital T ain’t a typo; and even if you were to forget everything else, there was the you-know-who, and his novel (sic.), which had spawned the flick.

Well, a bit of background first, Christmas Eve was a crowded and liquid affair at Park Street. I, as usual, wanted to hog somewhere, but my esteemed batch-mates, again as usual, had their priorities all wrong. Don’t blame ’em; people perhaps do derive a perverse sense of pleasure from getting plastered. And I gotta admit, watching the Existentialist Mallu stand outside St. Paul’s and shout, “Where’s my Santa, Where’s my Santa”, was much fun 🙂 In any case, post-revelries I crashed at The Boy in Red, Doctor Saab, and the Poltergeist’s pad. The Poltergeist was leaving on an afternoon train the next day, so basically, the only show we could catch together was the morning show. So First Day, First Show it was.

Won’t say much about the movie. Won’t say anything about why its definitely the best movie I’ve seen all year. Or possibly amongst the best movies of this decade. I won’t say a word about how this movie excels as a package, and how even some of the corniest moments, somehow fit in. Not a word about Rancho. Or about Chatur Ramalingam, in a debut act by Omi Vaidya which deserves to go down in the ages.

I’ll just say this much; through out the movie, there must have been at least five moments when the capacity audience at Mani Square burst into spontaneous applause. And a standing ovation at the end of it. And when, I, and the four other gits I’d gone to see the blasted movie with, walked out of the theatre, we were all flashing our pearlies to each other. The School of De Sica might have its admirers, but I wouldn’t watch The Bicycle Thief a second time. 3 Idiots though, I could watch again and again.

P.S. Just a word of advice though. If you do go to watch the movie, watch it with a blank slate. Do not draw parallels with what happened in the Munnabhai series, or RDB, or Taare Zameen Par, and analyze how derivative and inferential a work this truly is. Give your mind a rest, watch it with your heart, and trust me, All Shall Be Well 🙂

The Art of Cool

Sergio Leone meets tacky WW II iconography. Throw a couple of marquee names into the mix. Have an impossibly implausible plotline. Don’t even dare to think about cutting back on the gore. Always remember that humour, like good coffee, is best served black. And most importantly, mangle up the bloody title like its nobody else’s business. Yet, or perhaps ergo, Inglourious Basterds is possibly Tarantino’s best work yet.

For when Tarantino, that purveyor of coolth extraordinaire, makes a movie, he makes cool movies, which cool peeps go and watch in theatres, and for which cool reviewers trying to illustrate how cool they are, write cool reviews extolling the director and the movie’s uber-coolness. It’s all about being cool, you know. And given how much of a philistine I am in all matters pertaining to high cool, I have usually found myself singularly incapable of truly appreciating Tarantino’s greatness.

I liked this one though. The movie has its moments for sure; a pretty strong cast, decent performances (Brad Pitt’s constipated looks notwithstanding), a riveting background score, but then again background scores were always Tarantino’s patch (case in point, Kill Bill Vol. I, The Bride vs. O-Ren Ishii, Santa Esmeralda tripping away in the background, très CULT), and a certain someone called Colonel Hans Landa.

For me, if there was any one factor which elevated this movie from being strictly middling to anything vaguely approaching the sublime, it has to be this part essayed by Christoph Waltz. Funnily enough, If Variety is to be believed, then this part was not even meant for Waltz in the first place. It was supposed to go to DiCaprio instead. Well, thank heavens it didn’t. I, for one, cannot for a moment believe, that even DiCaprio for all his cinematic virtuosity and thespian nous, could have carried off Landa. There was just one moment though which I found slightly jarring in the character portrayal of Landa. For someone that suave and smooth, the act of brutally throttling a woman did seem a tad out of place. Or perhaps, the director just wanted to show that beneath that outward veneer of sophistication and charm, there still lurked a Nazi pig.

For all that, this one’s a decent enough watch, and speaking for myself, total paisa wasool for the fifty odd bucks I spent on it.

Food tip: Panfried Momos at Tibetian Delight. Well, the place is pretty much unplottable, but if you do manage to make your way there, make sure you try out these killer momos doused liberally in ultra-spicy red sauce. It IS absolutely brilliant. They had a dish called Shyphalley as well, which (or to be a wee more precise, the description of which) sounded equally enticing, but the resto-wallahs had run out of it by the time we placed our orders! Shall try that out next time I head there 🙂

The Departed

See Departed for Nicholson’s Joker meets Godfather routine. See Departed for DiCaprio’s portrayal of what angst and vulnerability really ought to be like. See Departed for the superb Matt Damon, for the brilliant Alec Baldwin and the equally good Martin Sheen. But most of all, see Departed for Mark Wahlberg’s Dignam. For a guy who gives the term, ‘shooting from the lip’ almost a complex and in the process ends up elevating profanities to an artform. For a guy who barely occupies a third of the screentime, yet walks away with the best lines and every damn scene he’s in. See this damn flick for all these things. And as Dignam would have said, your satisfaction is guaran-fuckin-teed

Sometimes a Broomstick’s All You Need

Chk this out…..http://ipsitaroy.tripod.com/spells.htm…….don’t mean to be flippant or anything about these supernatural spells or the ancient wisdom of Wiccan tradition (umm….aah…..err), but most of these spells seem little more than glorified limericks, the kind we used to have back in kindergarten.

P.S. My apologies if I have unknowingly offended any exponent of the aforementioned art. Hope you shall view my inanities with a certain degree of latitude and regard me as nothing more than a thoughtless, idiotic chap who didn’t know what he was getting into.

P.P.S. There aren’t any spells for striking down a bugger with a bolt of lightning right?

P.P.P.S And btw, while ur still there, in that flick Four Rooms, the one in which the bellhop was Tim Roth, those 4 ladies in the first chapter, were they wiccans?

X-Men, New Empire and CCD

This post comes at point where I am almost on the verge of taking a complete sabbatical from this blogging business. For somebody who is laziness personified, u’ve no idea how tedious the idea of a regular routine is. Neways, I tend to work best under compulsion or when there ain’t ne option left and I do feel adequately compelled to compose a post now, so I’ll zip up and get on with whatever I have to say.

Saw X-Men 3 today. By far, the most glorious special effects newhere in the trilogy. Watch it, if for nothing else, for the sheer number of mutants and the kind of powers they have. Might sound like an adoloscent comic nut, but can’t help it, the darned flick is visually so overpowering and the graphics have been so stunningly rendered I can’t help gushing. However, its way too short for my liking, and sometimes it does seem that Mr. Director was in somewhat of a hurry to wrap up the scenes

Secondly, wherever you go, dont venture newhere near New Empire. I went to a movie-hall (as compared to a multiplex) after sumthing like 5 yrs or so, and it was like entering a time-warp. The damn place hasn’t changed a bit. Same rickety chairs, same shoddy air-conditioning, same poor picture quality……..what the hell, you get the point. Go to Inox or Fame where atleast u’ll be able to enjoy the movie for whatever its worth with a far better audience for company (Man, at dis place whenever Wolverine and gang were bashing up Magneto & Co. it was just like being at a friggin India-Pak match)

P.S. Whenever you go to CCD and place an order for sumthin to drink and the nice waiter asks you whether you want cream, ice cream and all, REMEMBER, the bugger isn’t being nice, he’s gonna charge u for it

Crash

Crash, undoubtedly is by far, one of the best movies I’ve caught in quite some time now (seems like I am enjoying something of a streak in good movies now, first RDB and now this). And this fulfilled the most necessary prerequisite for any magnificent flick; It makes you think. Racism, racial discrimination are the primary context in which the entire movie has been filmed with a series of interconnected episodes seamlessly woven into the storyline.

And it actually made me think that it all boils down to the kind of diversity America enjoys in the first place; it is by no means inherent, at best acquired. Reminds me of something I had read in the Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse by Nirad Chaudhari abt USA’s guiding motto being Ex Plunibus Unum (From Many to One) as compared to India’s Eko’ham Vahu’Sayam (Out of One Many) or as in its Latin form, E Uno Plures. As such, any effort to uphold and facilitate heterogeneity in a system which actively strives to homogenise its individuals can only be an utopian dream.

I mean to say, taking an analogy which might be completely out of line. India is primarily a Hindu nation right. Of course, we are a pluralist, multicultural society with a strong tradition of democracy but at the end of the day, the majority of India’s inhabitants are Hindus. Just look at the sheer number of deities in the Hindu pantheon. Guess it numbers somewhere around 108,000 or so. On the other hand, America; predominantly Christian, what do the one of the Ten Commandments say; Thou Shalt have no God other than me. Admittedly, a wretched analogy, but still, this is diversity, ain’t it.

Diversity cannot be fostered merely by a consciousness to be diverse. In India, the process of diversity, multiple ethnicities and their ilk commenced aeons ago. With a few exceptions, there are hardly any people in this country who can be identified as coming from a specific region or belonging to a specific religion. There has been so much of intermingling that most efforts at profiling ethnicity have come to naught in this country. Therein lies the beauty of India. America on the other hand was discovered in somewhere around late 15th Century. We had people like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King going around till around the first half of the previous century. Need I say more? There are no quick-fix solutions with regard to societal consciousness or individual bias. They can only be eroded with the passage of time and sometimes, sometimes efforts, however well-intentioned to rush up the process, as it were, actually amounts to a retrogade step. That is the fine line which all advocates of affirmative action or positive discrimination have to follow.

P.S. Whoa, I started with Crash and looked where I have ended. Actually, Crash reminded me of another entity as well…….Orkut……noticed how all the characters in the movie were connected to each other 🙂

An Insomniac Speaketh

Well, its around 3 in the middle of the friggin night and I can’t sleep, so I guess, I just might as well compose a new post. You know, when I come to think of it, the single greatest contribution which NUJS has made (so far, at least) has been the complete and absolute distortion of my body clock. I go to sleep and wake up at all kinds of ungodly hours. Leaving that aside here’s something interesting I discovered today.
Remember that shrieking, screaming girl who plays Cruise’s daughter in War of the Worlds, Dakota Fanning. She is the same adorable little girl who played Sam’s (Sean Penn’s) daughter’s part in I am Sam. I would have never thought of this if I hadn’t come across this trivia in a magazine. She was delightful in the latter flick; as for the former, ummm…….I guess her appearance could be regarded as the cue to cover your ears ASAP.